The path to success — building reputation, experience and connections
To gain a better insight into how young professionals in the electronics industry have turned challenges into opportunities and ensured continued growth, The Representor interviewed Jacob Medina, Account Manager for Straube Associates.
Medina shared how building industry knowledge, reputation and a network of connections from the ground up have helped set him up for success.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Being born and raised in the Bay Area, it was almost inevitable that I would end up in the electronics and tech industry at some point in my 31 years of life. I started off in the solar industry doing manufacturing and assembly, moved on to a larger tech company doing inventory and warehouse management, and eventually, landed in tech support. It wasn’t until recently that I got into sales, but my keen interest in electronics made this role the perfect opportunity for me.
With a father who’s an engineer and a mother who’s a nurse, I learned technical and practical skills early on. My father taught me how things worked independently and collectively, and my mother groomed me in the areas of internal and external care. I was able to apply my knowledge in both areas not only in the professional environment, but also at my church where I volunteer. It was there that I met my amazing wife and biggest supporter and I’m blessed to say that we have a healthy little nine-month-old boy who’s just as curious with the way things work as I was.
How long have you worked in the electronics industry?
I have been working in the electronics industry for 11 years with the last three years now as a manufacturers’ rep.
What made you choose this industry as your current career path?
I’ve always had a passion and interest in helping others, whether it’s fixing broken items, building hardware, or troubleshooting. Naturally, support operations were a compatible fit and I ended up working in those types of roles for over eight years helping direct individuals, but I was seeking more. I wanted to use my skills and experiences to help businesses grow. Coincidentally, my mentor recommended this career path, and I knew this is where I wanted to be.
What are some of the main challenges you encountered as you embarked on your career journey?
One of the biggest challenges was to build a reputation for myself as I had little experience in sales and had not yet built a network of connections. Another challenge that I faced was familiarizing myself with products I had little knowledge about.
What are some steps that you have taken to overcome these challenges and to ensure that you can establish and nurture a successful career?
I quickly learned to develop thick skin and to really try to understand the clients’ pain points and needs. I engulfed myself in product manuals and data sheets to get comfortable with the components and the ancillary items that would relate to them. Leveraging windshield time with regionals and FAEs when they were in town helped me gain further knowledge and understanding.
It took many rejections and persistence before purchase orders started to trickle in. However, I was constantly reminded by my boss that “sales is a series of rejections interrupted by an order” and I watched as it all started to come to fruition.
What were some training tools or networking/industry events that you found beneficial to your professional growth?
The most beneficial aid for my growth was learning from the seasoned professionals, whether it be “buddy calls” with my fellow colleagues or discussions with the distribution partners. Events like the ERA conference and bi-monthly water cooler events helped me build my network of connections and expand my industry knowledge. I also had the opportunity to complete the first part of my CPMR certification earlier this year.
Is there enough new talent entering the electronics industry and what could make this field more attractive to future young professionals?
While the overwhelming majority can be considered high tenured, I do see a slow shift toward the younger generation, but not quite enough yet. With the advancement of electronics, we’re seeing a boom in new technological developments such as drones, electric vehicles, network enhancements, etc. These developments would make this field more attractive to future young professionals if marketed appropriately.
Where do you see your profession and the industry 10 to 20 years from now?
Having lived through probably the toughest of times in this industry due to the pandemic, I can see the profession evolving into a fully remote and virtual platform. While nothing will ever replace the human element of in-person meetings, there will be more efficient ways to do so. As we see the generational shift, there will be more tech savvy ways to replace old-fashioned methods. I can see artificial intelligence and bots working in the industry to predict and forecast needs while maintaining supplies and orders of inventory.
Professionally, what keeps you up at night?
Particularly during this pandemic, raw material shortages and unmet lead times have been keeping me up at night. The unpredictability of timelines makes it difficult to plan which can hold up client processes and developments. Also, my nine-month-old son — #dadlife.